Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Sounds so scientific. So cold. And it is, when you think about it. All that gear, all that math involved in the training (15ft/5 meters is forever engrained in my brain…but to be honest the atmospheres of pressure- not so much.) But most of us aren’t scientific or technical divers. Most of us are SCUBA diving simply for the enjoyment of it. Once you hit that water nothing about it seems scientific or cold, but maybe still scary the first few times.
My now-husband, boyfriend at the time, and I were getting ready to go on a trip to Costa Rica. There was a chance we may be able to dive on this trip, and I had never tried it before. For good reason…I was pretty scared. I had seen that episode of House with the guy on the plane, I knew what the “bends” was. And I wasn’t in. Until he convinced me to try it in a pool.
Seemed like a safe place to try it…so I did. I honestly don’t remember much of the entire experience. “Blacked out” is too strong a term, but there was definitely a combination of excitement and nerves that kept me from developing any memory of the situation. After that session, SCUBA diving wasn’t so bad! Maybe I should get certified…
Fast forward a few years, and we moved to a state with year-round diving opportunities, I worked in the marine science field, and at that point…how. could. I. even. without being certified. So we did it — our open water certification. Day 1: half-day in the pool, half-day in the Spring at Blue Grotto.
This was my first time diving outside of a pool and we descended deeper and deeper, past the point of feeling comfortable, particularly when he gestured to us to come down further and into a cave-like system. Like good buddies, my husband and I looked at each other and gestured “noooope” before hovering where we were. The instructor got the message. It was one way to get figuratively (and kind of literally…) thrown into the deep end, and I was hooked.
The next day, for the second part of our SCUBA diving certification, we hopped on a charter. This was an overwhelming experience. It still is, to this day, even with 50+ dives logged and time spent on a liveaboard. The dive boat experience is a unique one. One I recommend. (More on that here.) But a rough one for a new diver. My second day diving, I could hardly remember how to put my gear together but the captain, crew, and instructor helped and away we went. Oh. My Gosh. Game changer. THE FISH! It was very Ferris Bueller, “How could I possibly be expected to handle school on a day like this?”…how could I be expected to focus on my skills when the fish were all around?! (“Schooling” pun unintended, but will remain.)
We got back on the boat and that was it. We were certified. Book lessons, video lessons, checkout dives- DONE. Did I feel prepared enough to go out on my own? No way. Did we do it anyway ’cause we had to? Yep. Was it awesome? Double yep. Both my husband and I are pretty risk-adverse people so we never push it too much, always keep an eye on our gauges, and have become pretty proficient divers since then. But there is always that thought in the back of my mind like “…that’s all we had to do to go 60 ft underwater?!”
I became much more confident as we started our advanced certification but that’s a story for another time…